Saturday, October 28, 2006

5.52am

My grandma died yesterday. I am getting on a train at 5.52am tomorrow, Sunday, and go to Frankfurt airport, fly to London and then onto California. I will stay 6 days and fly back to Germany, arriving in Freiburg around 8pm.

I called my grandma the day before she died. We talked on the phone for five minutes while she was in the hosital. There actually was not a phone in her hospital room but the nurse in charge of that area, when she heard I was calling her from Germany, found a cordless phone and brought it to her. For that I am very grateful.

There is a lot more to talk about but I think I will let my grandma have today...I will update you from so cal in a few days.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

911

We got a problem. I consider myself a patriot of America, I am proud to be American. I am very lucky to have been born in the United States, southern California to be more exact. I have had the chance to grow up enjoying more or less the fruits of life and even on a small level here in Germany am doing the same. I think most of my success in Germany has had to do with the fact that I was American, indirectly or not. There are so many positive things about the United States, and most of them are unspoken whiffs of wind as you are in the midst of enjoying youself in a truly American activity, like eating in restaurants often, going to the movies, shopping and beautiful weather, spending your Saturday a mix between watching sports, have damn good food with the most minimal of effort, and then plans to have some drinks with friends in a cool area and thinking about a trip to Vegas next month sounds cool. Everything is just right in your world.

Everything is not just right in my world. Here is a small snippet of what has been bothering me lately:

*About the same amount of people who died on 911 is about the number we're about to have ost in Iraq in the past three and a half years.

*The leader of Venezuela calls George Bush "the devil" at the UN meeting. I applauded the freedoms of the United States that sovereign leader of another country can call the president of my country "the devil" within the country. Then I learn thatVenezuela is competing with Guatemala to have a spot on the security council of the UN, I believe, a temporary but temporarily influential power for a couple of years.

*However, the investigation into what happend on 911 was not resolved. They focus on the theory that both of the Twin Towers collapsed because of fire. It turns out only three buildings in the history of steel and concrete structures have ever collapsed because of fire: the two Twin Towers and World Trade Center building 7, a 47-storey structure that was not hit by an airplane at all but at 5.20pm on 911 fell quietly into its own footprint in what even then looked like a controlled demolition.


Go to www.youtube.com and do searches under any of the following:
*lady and Tate 911
*loose change 911
*and vaguer searches for 911 truth or conspiracy and suddenly lots of seemingly credible people in all levels of American society coming together to talk about the truth. If nothing else, we owe it to the 3,000 people that died on 911 and all the innocent soldeiers, Iraqi and Afhani civilians and people who have yet to die because of it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Rent is Right

damn, I just typed a long post and my computer flubbed it up. Well, the Rent is right....

The Rent is Right

I won't let another year spiral before I get out there.

Those were the words of John Mooney today, one of the best, craziest friends to have. I hope he's up to his word.

I finished rereading "The Devil in the White City" about the 1894's World Fair in Chicago and have started rereading "Pirate Coast" about 300 American sailors being made slaves in Tripoli, in modern day in Libya, the story happening in 1803, the same year as the Louisiana Purchase.

I will be home in southern california in less than two months. I will stay for 3 weeks. The last couple of years of my life has been, work hard for a few months, get some weeks off, work for a couple of months, get 6 weeks off, work hard, get a few weeks off. Thanks, Germany.

I hope to see you all soon.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

long time no see

sorry, no can do, but just wanted to write back and say that I could picture a "me" that would say yes from time to time. After all, wir sind kaeuflich, right? But that ain't me today.
I tried to teach "long time no see" to some Business English students last night. A couple of the students regularly do business with American companies, travelling to and from and but was gearing to them more because at that moment the other 4 students weren't really paying attention, ensconced in their own fascination to realize that their neighbor also speaks German and it is a much easier language to "quatsch" in. One of them sniffed this phrase at the end because she always likes a good phrase that she can use once or twice in life and write it down, probably for her granddaughter whenever she finds the dusty journal underneath her a french grammar book.
I had to write it down on the board and saw how silly it looked. I then explained about many foreigners came to America and sort of learned the language together but many with different linguistic backgrounds and so it was a unique experience. Some of the most telling or singular phrases were taken over by the "mainstream", like me saying to Sylvia, my boss, yanowhaimsayin? Maybe in 25 years, that will become part of the language that parents will say, but mostly because they grew up with it. It's so interesting how the people in the MTV generation all say "geil" like there's nothing wrong with it but I'd say if you're 40 or older, generally, you feel a bit squeamish and Victorian about using that word to represent what, "wahnsinnig", "fantastisch", and maybe if you're mid 30s "cool".
Here's my point: would a Polish guy or Spanish woman or Chinese hermaphrodite you are doing business with understand "long time no see" as a greeting after not having seen each other for awhile? Do you sometimes teach things in terms of "ONLY native speakers will understand this phrase" and "most people would understand what you said".
This came up from Business Objectives, the little board game you play around page 15 or so. "You see an old friend at the conference. Greet him/her. The students were saying stuff like, "Oh, Hartmut, it good to see you again" which was ok save the fact it was robotic and devoid of emotion. I interrupt. "Oh Hartmut, my god, how are you? Long time no see, you look great, how's it going?" I didn't instruct him to embrace or kiss on the cheek, right, but that's how Americans can easily react. This was important so that if had an American say it to him or a derivative thereof, he would be able to get through the moment without having to show right away that you flubbed his English before he's gotten a chance to process the person just said to him/her.
Anyway, I was in Loerrach today thinking that my weekend started around a little after 4pm today. As I was ending my first class a little before 11am, I asked, when do we meet next week? And about 7 of the 25 said "tomorrow". What? I looked in my journal and nope, didn't have it written down. I checked in the schedule I was given and the students even reminded me that I had the dates on the board at the beginning of the course. Stimmt! Damn, I thought, I gotta work tomorrow. I tried to think of any way to get out of it, push it back to eternity for all I cared but to no avail. And you know what, I'm a lucky SOB for even having that job, even if they do report to the government every single penny I earn. Life ain't perfect, weissh?
I'll try and make it to the stammtisch tomorrow, I still would love to recommend O'Kellys instead if it were just gonna be teachers and all. I'll be getting back into town around 5pm, anyone wanna meet then?
Who wants to tell us about their work day a bit?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

November 30th or January 10th???

I've something to update you guys on and so that's why we're here. I hope you enjoyed the pictures I added a couple of days ago, I am happy to add more picturs if anyone is truly interested.

Some of our stuff is moldy! Our clothes and books and photos and "stuff" was in the cellar of this older building the past 3 months almost and the girls told me last night that some of their clothes were moldy and they had to throw them away. I didn't totally believe them but thought it was a joke at first, something we have done from time to time but apparently they meant it. I went down there this morning and it seems that most of my stuff to this point (shirts, some pants and some photos) seem to be more or less okay but I am still worried about my photo negatives namely. I have some photos that could possibly be worth money someday and it would really suck if they had gone the way of the moldy dodo. Some of my my photo albums were a bit stuck together and moist almost but they weren't at an advanced state that I needed to think about throwing them away. It feels good but at the same time almost burdensome to have so much stuff. I could easily get rid of quite a few things and still might but now that I have seen my favorite 20 books or so, I felt relieved that they were okay, like they were puppies who had been in a burning building and I immediately wanted to read all of them again. I know I still have a ton of clothes down there and now my main motivation to get them is not that I want or need them but that I don't them to get moldy!

More importantly, my work permit expired today. That's why I went to the foreign authorieties before 9am this morning to get an extension while my case is still up in the air. Of course it is Wednesday and what that means is that you need an appointment if you want to see them before lunch. The boss per telephone told me so. I tried to call for an appointment and there was nothing. Shit, I thought, this is exactly what they want, they being the people who are blindly answering letters saying that I have to leave this wonderful country. They want me to forget to get the extensioin so that they can say in a month or two years that for a short while I was working illegally and that is grounds for expulsion from Germany. I'm sure it's not a malicious wish of theirs but a few people would probably be glad to have me off their hands.

Anyway, the hallway was somewhat full and I thought that I had no chance to get this extension and that I would have to go back in the afternoon to deal with it, something that would suck because I needed this time this afternoon to go in the cellar to resuce some stuff, organize the room a bit and relax before going to work in the afternoon. My case worker was not there. That means sick or holiday. These people seem to have a high rate or not being at work, almost never has the person in charge of my case been the one to help me. I paced the hallway, simultaneously waiting downstairs to offically change my address, something I have yet to do. I went into the secretary to make an apointment if necessary and she said there was nothing. I explained how it expired today and I wanted to be here legally and just at that moment the substitute for my guy wakled into the office, listened to me briefly and then told that I didn't need an appointment and took my passport and told me to wait outside the office.

I waited outside the office and it felt like waiting for a backstage pass. There were people waiting there who most likely had appointments but I was geoing to get helped before them. I should anyway, the shit those people have put me through! Five minutes later I had another 90 day extension to my work permit. January 10, 2007. A new year, my friends. I will survive into a new year here in Germany, on my own merits, not because my girlfriend was nice enough to marry me about two years before we would like to.

Now here is the irony. The foreign authorities told me that they would be making a decision of some kind by November 30th, a new D-day for me. But, without knowing it, a different person has single-handedly given me an extra month and a half here in Germany, taking me through the holidays and into the new year. No one knows what is going on over there but I guess if I can just play this card until April 2008 (haha!), I could just get my permission forever. Yes, that's a joke but I swear I will keep getting these 90 day things while they sit on their hands or run around trying to find someone with enough balls to just give me the two-year extension so I can get out of their face, if for no other reason, my god!

They don't know this yet but today I was interviewed by an English-language magazine for the state in Germany I live. They are going to do an article about in case and we hope it serves a couple of purposes. First, other people in my situation will come out of the woodwork saying they have the same problem or had no problems getting their extension. Second, hopefully some people in the State government will read this magazine and get interested in this case. I mean, I love this country, I am in love with a girl from this country, we have been together four and a half years and I have been here for three and a half years. I speak German and even some of the local dialect here in Freiburg and the surrounding area, I have German friends and think that Freiburg is the best place on earth and I am from a damn nice place myself, ya know?

So, I've got another hour or so to chill out before I have to get ready, take a tram and then a train to work into another town for three hours. For my three hours there I will earn 72 euro or about 90 dollars. My rent is now 130euro/month. You tell me if I like it here or not. I am going to California for three weeks in Christmas, going to Morocco for two weeks in February and in April my folks are coming and they will finally meet Assiyeah's parents in Berlin and then afterwards we will go on a 5-6 day trip, either to Istanbul or to Prague and Budapest. I will start planning a fashion show, my first, next month and want to do a photos exhibition in California in December. Life is good and I try to make all the people around me feel that way. I just wish that the people who really have an impact on my staying here could know that and be able to make a decision to let me stay.

cheers
p.s. I have been watching a lot of youtube.com lately and am amazed at how Keith Olbermann talks to the amera when wanting to speak to George Bush, it's good to see people can still speak their minds, right?

Sunday, October 08, 2006


A photo of the most north I've ever been in a cafe in most south I've ever been (Norway and Argentina). This seems to be a good spot to tell the visual story of our trip to South America. You will see extremes and hopefully you enjoy them. "Sorry" it took a couple of weeks to get it together, there is still chaos in our apartment!


At the tango show we went to the my folks, Buenos Aires, Argentina


My folks looking sharp at my photo exhibition in Buenos Aires!


Sexy Assiyeah at Iguazu Falls, Argentina


At a night club in Asuncion, Paraguay with Assiyeah and Vivian next to her and a couple of her friends, living large as usual!


Our first chicken to ride on a bus with us, Asuncion, Paraguay


That is one an Argentinien barbecue looks like, boo ya!


Assiyeah getting chummy with one of South America's strange-looking folk


A really pretty church in Salta, Argentina


Me and some flamingoes way off in the background! The pink things, not the people off my left shoulder!


Me at the sunrise jumping at the end of our Salt Flat tour, four days in a bumpy jeep in the most basic of accomodations, it looks like I'm parachuting!


The Salt Hotel, near Uyuni, Bolivia


Because the salt flats are so large, there is so real sense of perspective, or rather it's easy to distort. That is me taking a picture with my camera!


I wanted this to be our Xmas card this year but Assiyeah wasn't sure about that!


After our salt flat tour, the other people who were in the Land Cruiser with us, bumpy and dusty for 4 days. Alan from Colorado, Sylvain from France, me and Assiyeah, Chris and Selena from England


The beginning of a strange evening, a colorful festival in a small, normally dead town, a girl in costume with her military father crossing a windy, dusty street.


Train cemetery, Uyuni, Bolivia, the first trains in South America and their final resting place


Sunset on the tower in Potosi, Bolivia


The Ch'utillos Festival in Potosi, Bolivia, costumes up the ying yang and music!


An annual festival we saw in Potosi, the highest city in the world at about 13,500 feet! The people drank a lot, danced a lot and play loud drum and horn music all day!


Pure alcohol to buy the minders and also, in the bottom right of the picture, the only city in the world (they say) where you can buy dynamite on the street, unregulated! We gave it and alcohol and cocoa leaves to the miners. Potosi, Bolivia


The miners pray to the devil inside the mountain, and there are cocoa leaves and empty liquor bottles all around him.


Us on the mine tour, while a dude behind us has one of the worst jobs on earth, shovelling dirt into a wheelbarrow in complete darkness save a headlight and bad ventilation. You see it was difficult for me to give me American smile for the picture. I will never complain about work ever again, probably.


Assiyeah from our room at the Grand Hotel in Sucre, Bolivia, a whopping 13euro/night! Cable TV even baby!


Some llama fetuses at the Witches' Market in La Paz


The living and dining room of our hosts in La Paz.


Some strange dude at the Valley of the Moon in La Paz, Bolivia, playing flute.


Sunset at Copacabana, Bolivia


The view from our 10euro/night room on Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca


One of our rowboat experiences getting to/from Copacabana, Bolivia on Lake Titicaca while it was officially blockaded. Assiyeah will tell you about that dude's feet!


View from Cuzco, after walking up a lot of steps at 10,000 feet!


view from Machu Picchu at sunrise, mountain peaks in all directions!


Us at Machu Picchu. We climbed the smaller mountain to the left later in the day.


Assiyeah at Machu Picchu, though you can't see it in the picture, it's off the left but the surroundings were just as impressive.


Convent in Arequipa, Peru, it had been closed off to the outside world for 400 years!


Assiyeah and an alpaca and another lady, at about 6.45am!


Assiyeah and a couple of other chicks from the Colca Canyon trip dressed up in traditional clothing, Peru

Saturday, October 07, 2006

the day after the Ryan Adams concert

The last two Ryan Adams concerts I tried to see were cancelled, last summer in Oakland and January 2004 in Cologne, the latter being my destination again for last night. Me and Kristian and some other dude who split the gas with us drove over five hours to Cologne. Kristian and I used hospitality club again, my first time using it in Germany which I believe is the 13th country that I have used hospitality club in:

Ukraine June 2004
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Norway May 2005
Ireland June 2005
Italy September 2005
Greece November 2005
Netherlands March 2006
Paraguay August 2006
Argentina
Bolivia
Peru September 2006
Germany October 2006

Holy shit, that's 14 countries. Sweet...

Anyway, we bought a couple of beers and then were off to the venue, accidentally buying a "short journey" ticket for the 10-stop subway journey, met someone from Hamburg and another from Denmark on the walk to the venue, sold the two extras I had at face with the added part that they would buy me a beer inside. I was in about the 20th row and therefore couldn't see much, just occasional headshots through the space between people's necks ahead of me but it was a damn good show. It was country and psychadelic and had some good grooves and really quiet moments and almost every song was arranged differently than normal, I definitely enjoyed myself.

We had a very smooth 4.5 hour drive on the way back but it feels good to be so close to my bed, ya know what I'm sayin?

Our apartment is still in relative chaos but I'm starting to get used to it. My roommate has the start of her big "thesis time" and is already stressed out and she was just in Chile for two months! haha I know you're not reading this blog Caro but I love ya, girl!

I want to recommend the book by Richard Clarke called "Against All Enemies - America's War on Terror". The dude worked as the Counterrorism Czar and it is his view of the past 20 or so years of how America has gotten so intertwined with a scorpion. It's bipartisan but at times scathing of how our government has decided to "condiruct" this war. I wanted to put a pargraph of his to end the blog today.

Even more damaging is the loss of creditibility the national security institutions have suffered among our own people. Americans now know that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with September 11, that there was no imminent threat from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, that there was a secret sticker shock about the costs of the war in lives and dollars. It is important that the trust in America's word be restored, essential that we return to deal with the real threats, because there are real threats still out there and real vulnerabilities here at home. Unless we address these real problems, we will suffer again.

This was written in 2003, about 6 months after the invasion